The UFS (Federal University of Sergipe) opens in July a reading club dedicated to Arabic literature – if not the only one, at least one of the few of its kind in Brazil. The project is part of the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies, inaugurated at the end of 2019. The club will meet once a month on the internet to talk about the chosen work. Participation is free, but registration is required beforehand.
According to the Arab-Brazilian News Agency, the recent cycle of violence in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip was one of the catalysts for the project. “We feel the need to speak in different ways about what is happening in the Middle East, to escape the superficial ephemeral with which the mainstream media approaches Palestine and the Arab countries,” said Marianne Gennari, one of the creators of the club, at the agency.
During the first meeting, the group will discuss the collection of short stories “Beirut Noir”, by Lebanese Iman Humaydan. Participants will benefit from a reduction when purchasing the book, thanks to a partnership between the book club and the Tabla publishing house. For the second meeting, the book selected is “O Sussurro das Estrelas”, by the Egyptian Naguib Mahfouz, published in Brazil by the publisher Carambaia. Mahfouz is the only Arabic-speaking author to have received a Nobel Prize for Literature. In the future, the club will also talk about literature written by Arabs in the diaspora.
The Sergipe University Book Club coincides with a great time for Arabic literature in Brazil. As I recently explained in Quatro Cinco Um magazine, so much has never been translated from Arabic into Portuguese. This is in part the result of the emergence of a group of translators at USP led by Professor Safa Jubran, in addition to a specialist editor, Tabla.